Representatives from the Middle East and North Africa meet in Doha to strengthen the implementation of Biological Weapons Convention

February 7th, 2024

On 16 and 17 January 2024, 26 National Contact Points (NCPs) and representatives from 14 States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) from the Middle East and North Africa, attended a two-day training course in Doha to share information, knowledge and best practices on strengthening the implementation of the BWC.

The Regional Training Course was organized by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) in cooperation with the National Committee for the Prohibition of Weapons (NCPW) of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the State of Qatar. The course was developed in response to requests from NCPs to support their critical role in fulfilling their State’s obligations under the Convention.

His Excellency, Brigadier General Abdulaziz Aljabri, Chairman of the National Committee for the Prohibition of Weapons of the State of Qatar, opened the event and underlined his country’s longstanding commitment to the BWC and the relevance of the training course in strengthening the capacities of States Parties and NCPs.

Opening segment of the workshop.

The Deputy Head of Mission of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Qatar, Mr. Angelos Lenos, highlighted the EU’s support for, and contributions to, disarmament initiatives and commended the relevance of the regional training course in strengthening national implementation of the BWC. 

On behalf of UNODA, Mr. Yohann Bouvier, Political Affairs Officer, noted  that the course marked the first ever BWC event organized by the UNODA Geneva Branch in Qatar. He stressed the crucial role that NCPs play in the framework of the Convention.

The regional training course, he said, offered an opportunity for participants to share information and best practices, particularly as regards developing legislation and national action plans, and the preparation and submission of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), a key mechanism to promote transparency among BWC States Parties.

On day one of the training, participants learned about the roles and responsibilities of NCPs and current developments under the BWC Working Group on the Strengthening of the Convention. Participants expressed an interest in contributing to the discussions around cooperation and assistance under Article X, Science and Technology, and verification and compliance.  The lively exchange of views during the course sessions contributed to a better understanding of the BWC provisions, challenges and best practices. Inter-agency coordination, engagement with academia and the private sector, promoting the increased participation of youth in biosafety and biosecurity, biological coding and transfer controls were discussed, and the field of bioethics and artificial intelligence was also covered.

National Contact Points

On day two, the NCPs from Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan and Morocco presented their national experiences in a panel session on the preparation and submission of CBMs. The session offered an opportunity for representatives to share challenges and achievements vis a vis BWC implementation;  the elaboration of institutional and legal frameworks; and to convey best practices concerning the collection of information and inter-agency coordination mechanisms to ensure the timely submission of CBMs reports.

The training course concluded with an active learning session (tabletop exercise), which provided practical insights into the CBM preparatory process and sparked discussions around real case scenarios.

The training course for NCPs in the Middle East and North Africa was the third of a series of six regional training workshops for BWC NCPs tailored to specific regions and funded by the European Union.